Friday, December 12, 2008

Ode to Pork, Oh Heavenly Food!

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Yes Pork!

Who can present it more eloquently than Anthony Bourdain. The new season of No Reservations is set to begin in January and both my husband and I are drooling with anticipation of the new gustatory discoveries and challenges to his digestive system that Mr. Bourdain will exhibit for his never say die viewers.

A small taste of what is to come is in Mr. Bourdain's blog. Sri Lanka is dangled above our heads, still unreachable, tempting, just barely uncovered, just enough to whet our appetite for something new, something unusual. His wit and satire at times is poignant, makes you think, bitter sweet. Memories flash through of times gone by, foods never to be eaten again. Yet, there are new taste adventures out there to be experienced through the magic of television.

10 years ago, if someone had told me I'd develop an appreciation for foods thanks to Mr. Bourdain, I would have said "who? and huh?" It's been a long trip, filled with awe at times, longing at others, but always working towards the goal of discovery. Mr. Bourdain introduced me to Durian fruit, Pho, Curries, Sushi and many other dishes that this backwaters farm raised girl had never heard of. But it also made me realise that the foods we did consume on the farm were excellent.

The scenes relating to the joys of pork brought back fond memories of the fall slaughter, saving the blood for boudin, hands squishing the coagulating blood while mixing in the ingredients. Raw minced pork snagged from the growing pile of sausage on the table, quickly gobbled down while hearing mother yelling about worms and not caring. Why? Because it was that good.

Then the porcine head would be brought in from the shed, hosed off, tough hairs singed away with a blow torch, bits still clinging here and there. The tongue quickly removed and the rest of the head broken down into manageable pieces, and put into a large pot of boiling water with spices, onions, herbs, pepper, salt and boiled for hours until the meat fell off the bones. Then drained, left to cool down for a bit before removing all the meat to make 'fromage de tête de cochon' and serving the brains smeared on thick slices of fresh baked bread with lots of butter and salt. This would be quickly downed by the men before heading out to the barn to do the evening chores.

In the house, our work wasn't done yet. We ladled the meat from the head through a meat grinder to further reduce it, filled jars with the resulting mixture and poured a thin layer of the boiled down juices from the pot over to seal it. Then we'd carry those jars down to the basement to a cold room for later use during the winter. The sausage went to a neighbor with a smoke house. The rest of the meat was cut up into chops, the fesse de porc would also go to the smokehouse to come back as jambon, as did the belly and the fatback for bacon. Whatever was left after that would get turned into minced meat for freezing and later used for tourtière for Christmas and New Year's dinner.

When the men returned from chores, we'd all sit down to a supper of boiled potatoes and boudin. We didn't bother with casings, the boudin was cooked in pans in the old woodstove and cut up into serving pieces. Biting into a piece of pan boudin was like biting into a bit of heaven. It was creamy, sweet with onions and just felt so good going down.

This is the kind of food you can't buy. This is the kind of food you live. So thank you Mr. Bourdain for all that you do.

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